Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rhino At The Mall

As I Tweeted on Twitter earlier today:

The bad news: I have a cold so we can't go anywhere NEAR the NICU! ;o(
Heck, I won't even breathe in a SouthEasterly direction!

The good news: Isabella now weighs 3 pounds (1.36 kg)!!! Hurray! ;o)

I blame my cold on the Massachusetts court system. I had jury duty in Worcester’s “Mall of Justice” on Main Street and with 100 plus citizens all in one pool room there must have been a bug or two tagging along. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

I have to say that all three judges I either spoke with or listened to impressed the heck out of me. I had not been looking forward to my “one day, one trial” tour of duty. I understand and appreciate civic responsibility, but the timing for this call up was not the best. I really was hoping not to be empaneled and I wasn’t. But as each inspiring judge spoke, I had the powerful urge to hold up my juror badge and say “Pick me!”

So five stars to the judges; four and a half stars to the impressive facility; and five stars to Court Officer Rose who kept us all informed and advocated to get “her jurors” where we needed to be. Oh, and minus five stars to this damn rhinovirus. You’d think that all that scanning and screening at the front door would keep such nasties at bay!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fewer Or Less & A Word Among The Missing

Here’s a simple, general way to decide when to use the words “less” and “fewer”. If you can count whatever it is you are talking about, use fewer. If you can’t count it, use less. I am no grammarian, but it’s a rule which seems to be frequently broken.

The following sentence is correct:
I should spend less time knitting and buy fewer skeins of yarn.
I could reconstruct it this way:
I should spend fewer hours each day knitting and buy less yarn.
But the following sentence is not correct:
I should spend fewer time knitting and buy less skeins of yarn.

Grammar Girl has a detailed column on the topic. Grammar Monkeys have a brief audio explanation involving zombies.

As long as we’re on the topic of word usage, what the heck ever happened to the word “pled”. As in “She pled not guilty to the charges.” All I seem to hear on the news these days is “She pleaded not guilty.” I understand that pled is an alternative to pleaded. I also learned, after a bit of Googling, that its usage is disputed. But to my ear pled sounds right. And I don’t think it is due to my age, my having been born and raised in Rhode Island or my Scottish heritage.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Shine On

Chuck and I were finishing our walk early this evening when we caught sight of the Harvest Moon. (Well it was really the Harvest Moon plus a day.) We’re not sure which one of us took this photograph. We had the camera with us, but no tripod. So we tried various settings and leaning on each other to try and steady the shot. We took a lot of pics but this was the only one which began to capture the beauty of the moon, rising up through a stand of trees, in central Massachusetts.

P.S. How old am I? I Googled “Harvest Moon lyrics” and instead of the early 1900s song “Shine On Harvest Moon” by Bayes and Norworth, up popped Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” from 1992. I have never heard of the latter, but have sung the former my whole life. Apparently I am ancient!

Mike Lowell

Mike “I only know how to hit doubles and home runs” Lowell is still going to retire at the end of this season. The Red Sox will be honoring him before the October 2nd home game. Lowell is one of my favorite players and I hate to see him go. This article by Ian Browne is a great read. It sums up Mike Lowell and his terrific career.

Update: Thankfully, it looks as if Mike was not seriously injured when he was hit in the right temple by the ball, during tonight’s game against the Evil Empire. A game which we won!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Tech That Binds

Knock wood, all continues to go well for our grandniece Isabella! After several weeks of taking lots of photographs, I had a slap the palm of my hand to my forehead kind of moment. I suddenly realized that our Canon PowerShot S2 IS digital camera has a video feature. Isabella had been moved to a new room in the NICU and I thought that her family living far away would like to be able to see her new room and, much more importantly, see Isabella in motion. So, I shot less than three minutes of footage, loaded it onto my computer, edited it in iMovie, uploaded it to our private iWeb site and sent the link off to family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone could access iWeb or view the video.

Cue the abrasive sound of a phonograph needle being scraped off an LP!

I’ll spare you the excruciating details of how I tried to troubleshoot the problem and how many e-mails I sent out. Eventually, I had to take another route and I finally found a winner. Turns out YouTube offers a Private video option. You upload your video to YouTube, tick the box marked private and then send out invitations to whomever you authorize to view the video. You’re limited to a maximum of 25 people and they have to register with YouTube. But for the family members whose non-Apple PCs and internet browsers weren’t compatible with iWeb, it has been a great solution. We’ve uploaded four videos to both locations and have it down to a pretty smooth system.

There was only one family member left out of the unlimited access loop: Nana, Isabella’s great grandmother. She has watched a couple of the videos on our laptop, but unlike everyone else, she doesn’t have nor does she want a computer. So this afternoon I used iDVD and burned all four videos to a disc. If her reaction to Carrie and Al’s wedding DVD is any indication, I should probably bring her a box of tissues along with the DVD!

Notting Hill

Apropos of nothing, the movie “Notting Hill” really holds up. It may have been made in 1999; it may be classified as a “chick flick” but it is still a pleasure to watch. I laughed. I cried. I clapped. Can’t ask for much more than that in film.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Visiting Family

The period of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe. During this time, it is customary to make visits to the cemeteries where your loved ones are buried. Today we picked up Chuck’s 87 year old aunt and drove to the collection of Jewish cemeteries in Woburn. We stopped at the first gate to pick up some pebbles from an open tray and went to our family member’s graves. On each headstone, we each placed one of the pebbles. They are left as a sign of respect and as a visible acknowledgement of the visit. Tante managed to leave her walker behind and, leaning on Chuck, walk to her parents and brother’s gravesite. But as the visiting continued, she stayed on the main paved path and we served as her ambassadors, leaving pebbles for her on the headstones of other relatives. As we walked, Tante would stop, read an inscription on a marker, remember and then tell us so and so was friends with Grandma or so and so worked with your father.

I do not like death or grief or loss. But I do love visiting a cemetery. I also love a good funeral home and a truly fine funeral. Apparently my pleasure today was evident because Chuck told me later that Tante said to him: “Lee’s certainly enjoying herself!” I think she likes that we are comfortable with the tradition of visiting; of reminiscing; of connecting the branches on the family tree. I think she also appreciated that as we walked around the cemeteries today, we began to take note of what Tante would like her headstone to look like. (Her plot is right next to her parents and brother.) Turns out, she likes a very finely grained, pale, pink granite!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Well, we call them Katydids, but the scientists say they are part of the Tettigoniidae family.
Yup. Katydids it is!

Oops! I should have put a link in for the Katydid. They look like grasshoppers, but are actually more closely related to crickets.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Tomorrow is Primary Day here in Massachusetts.

The polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

If you need information about your polling place, go the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Apathy is the enemy.

We cannot afford to sit this one out.

Live your values.
Love your country.

Unique Memorial

We’ve driven by this unusual headstone many, many times and I’ve always wondered about it. But I never went to see what individual or family it represents. Today we went into St. John’s Cemetery off of Cambridge Street in Worcester and learned that it is the Palermo Family.

May all the members of the Palermo, DeMango, Cipro and Pedrone families know peace. And may P.F.C. Vincent G. Palermo’s ultimate sacrifice always be remembered and honored.

You can follow along with The Wormtown Fleet by clicking here and following the “Linky blog hop” links.

Friday, September 10, 2010

That’s Eft Not Elf

An Eastern Newt Salamander (Notophthalmus Viridescens) in its Red Eft stage, as seen in our dooryard this morning. Chuck provided assistance by holding back the greenery and adding a sense of scale. Thanks Chuck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paper Deal!

By far, our favorite paper to print photos and digi-scrap layouts out on is Staples Photo Supreme Double Sided Matte Paper. When we stopped in the Staples in Millbury on our way home from visiting Isabella and Carrie today, we found they were running a ridiculously good deal on it. List price is $14.99 for 50 sheets. But you can get a rebate card or check (check please!) for $14.74. That makes your final cost just 25¢. Limit two per household, but it’s a great chance to try out this consistently well reviewed paper (4.5 stars out of 5 on 711 reviews).

Would I prefer they still sold boxes of 100 sheets? Yes please.
But I’ll happily take advantage of this in-store deal - good only through Saturday, September 11th.

The Book Cover

As promised, a photo of my version of the Reversible Journal Cover.
It was well received. ;o)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Cover

I needed to make a book cover out of fabric. I had been thinking about winging it - my usual strategy! And heaven knows that once upon a time I wrapped all my textbooks with brown paper bag covers. (I also used the glossy store bought ones with ivy league college and university logos emblazoned on them. However inspiring they may have been, the brown paper bag ones lasted longer!)

Anyhoo, I Googled to see if I could find a good design. I found several. But if I was not going to wing it, I needed a really good tutorial. By good I mean clear and easy to follow directions, coupled with very good images to follow. I found a nifty one which, by the description, should have been way too complicated: “A Reversible Journal Cover”. It wasn’t! Lara Cameron in Melbourne, Australia posted the directions, complete with illustrations. I’m a visual learner so that was important. You have to look very closely at those illustrations but she really does spell everything out and make it quite simple: basically four rectangles of fabric and six seams.

Full disclosure: I neglected to double a measurement as advised in Step 3. That was my own darn fault for reading too quickly. But it actually worked out just fine. On my next one I will double that measurement as advised to give the “pockets” where the book cover slips in, better coverage.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Following Breadcrumbs - Again!

You know Masterpiece Theater on PBS?
You know the Swedish series “Wallander” starring Kenneth Branagh?
You know the haunting song they play every time they advertise “Wallander”?

“Tram wires
Across northern skies
Cut my blue heart in two
My knuckles bleed
Down the tattered street
On a door that shouldn't be
In front of me...”

It took some Googling but it turns out that it’s called “Nostalgia”. It’s sung by an Australian gal by the name of Emily Barker.
The reason it was a bit of a hunt was because they changed the lyrics from the original song to fit the “Wallander” series.
I found the info thanks to this German blog.

Umm... So, now you know why I’m a little backed up with my laundry!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Two Years!

Happy second wedding anniversary
to Al and Carrie!
May happiness be
your constant companion ~
and may Isabella grow stronger every day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nineteen Years!

“Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary to us,
Happy Anniversary dear Chuck & Lee
Happy Anniversary to us -
and many more!

Chuck and I have known each other for 25 years and as of today we have been married for nineteen! The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting Chuck! The smartest decision I ever made was saying yes to this wonderful man!